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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I am a dancer with Minneapolis based James Sewell Ballet, a small, contemporary ballet company. I also choreograph independently.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Last night N and I performed my new duet, “Parallel”, in the Walker Art Center Choreographer’s Evening. It is tradition that this annual showcase is held on the Saturday night after Thanksgiving. In my case, thinking of last night, this is most appropriate as I am indeed thankful.

There were two shows back to back. I like the rythym of that. When I feel good, like I’m proportioned and that life is balanced (or tilted in a good direction), I don’t need superlatives. I don’t need to be the best or prettiest or thinnest. I can share my toys and meld my light with the collective. That’s how I felt last night, especially for the second show.

I’d been feeling slightly insecure about the piece. I had no sense of perspective. I thought it too sentimental, cloying. I brought in C to watch, help, input, and that gave me the objectivity I needed. I then felt free to express, to let my emotions go beyond the boundaries of my focused and tiny world.

Because the botton line is, this piece is personal. For the first time, consciously, my art is reflecting my life. I did not set out to do it. Indeed, I wanted to explore the archetypes in Peter Pan. I wanted to have a wand and be a sort of Tinkerbell. What came out instead was a jogging, running, determined, together-yet-separate duet. Mostly close but with respective gazes off into the distance. Yes, this dance is about me and J.

At the top of our wedding programs we had a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It said something about love being not about gazing at each other, but about looking outward together in the same direction. This is a beautiful thought. And yet, in my experience, I can assuredly say that it is of vital importance to look a person in the eyes, right through to the heart. And to stay there, and protect that with your life.

I do believe in love. I clap my hands like the lost boys. I’m at present busy redefining it. I’m redefining happiness as I throw my priorities up in the air to see which lands where and in what order. I’d like to think that I can have it all, the big three: relationship, career, family. I clap my hands three times.

Throughout my piece I yell directives. Just one word, and the same one: “Go!”. During last night’s second show, I played with how I said it the third time, near the end. I was softer. There was a vulnerable yet quiet strength to how it came out. The last “Go” commands the curtain to fly open and for N and I to stop. We let go of hands, balanced on one leg each. Close together yet facing the same direction. Blackout.

On the next “lights up”, I want to feel equipped to put my other foot down, take a step toward another person, and look, really look. Here’s the thing though. I also need to feel free to turn sideways and stand on one leg if I want/need. Clap my hands, I want it all.


Anonymous Laura said...

Thank you, Penny, for sharing your gorgeous duet with us. Because you were sharing from your personal experience, it made the piece all the more intimate. I feel blessed to have witnessed it, and am looking forward to your next choreographic endeavor.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous carolyn redrow said...

My mom somehow came across this in the newspaper. Do you remember Carolyn O'Kresik? Its your old friend from elementary school. It was interesting reading some of your entries and hearing about all of the amazing things you are doing. Congratulations on living your dream of dance! Carolyn

11:13 AM  

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